Brady Austin: The Baseball Consultant of GeoCities
For this assignment, I chose to focus on a GeoCities website titled “Baseball Consulting,” which was established in the mid-late 1990s, and remained active until 2006. The website’s primary purpose was to promote the baseball training services offered by Coach Brady Austin, a baseball coach from Sunnyvale, California. Coach Austin mostly worked with younger athletes, including those from St. Francis High School, Mountain View High School, and various other club teams and programs.
The forefront of the website has Austin’s “mission statement,” which reads as follows: “We believe to develop baseball players to their full potential, they need access to the best and most current information available to maximize their potential. I’m not only dedicated to bring out the best in an athlete but committed to provide them with best instruction possible. I also believe an athlete progresses and succeeds with positive reinforcement. We build confidence and mental toughness they need to be successful.” In relation to the production aspect of the circuit of culture, he puts the mission statement on his website to establish what the meaning is behind his product, which is baseball consulting. This mission statement represents a product that is characterized by his commitment to helping baseball players reach their full potential, by providing them with invaluable information and delivering top-notch coaching. He emphasizes the role of “positive reinforcement” in an athlete’s progress and success, building their confidence and mental strength. Further sections on the website outline the other priorities of Austin’s training services, each accompanied by a brief explanation. He includes links to other pages within the site, such as “hitting,” “conditioning,” “pitching,” and “gallery” (although this last section is no longer available). In each section, Austin goes into what his consulting services will focus on in terms of each aspect of baseball. The content reinforces baseball as demanding specialized training and unwavering commitment. With this mission statement, Coach Austin also incorporates the identity facet of the circuit of culture. He establishes his identity as a firm, yet caring baseball coach who has high expectations for his potential athletes.
Austin’s target audience for this website is younger athletes, specifically baseball players, as well as their parents. His profile page provides contact information which demonstrates his understanding that parents would likely be the ones reaching out to him. The website aimed to attract parents seeking successful outcomes for their children, not just in baseball but in sports/life in general. Parents were drawn to the developmental benefits such as discipline, work ethic, competitiveness, and athletic achievement. Enrolling in specialized baseball training programs offered parents the opportunity to shape a positive athletic identity for their children. This also exemplifies the identity aspect, as my experience while playing sports has shown me that parents often push their children harder when they themselves did not achieve success in their careers. These parents are determined to ensure that their children do not face the same identity issues. Austin’s services present an opportunity for them to mold a different identity for their kids.
The website primarily targeted players who already had experience in the sport and wanted to elevate their game. He uses baseball terms and phrases that only a current player would know, such as “bat lag” and “slumps”. This relates to both the representation and identity aspects of the circuit of culture, as Austin utilizes insider language to appeal to players seeking to improve their baseball skills and identity. Overall, the site effectively represented the identity of a dedicated baseball player striving for drastic improvement, one who “lives and breathes” the sport. By portraying baseball as a sport requiring precision, strength, and extreme dedication, the website appealed to players aspiring to embody these masculine athletic traits. It encouraged the identity of someone fully committed to the game and continuously working towards improvement, rather than being “complacent”. The concept of masculinity in the late 1990s was slightly different from today, strictly characterized by attributes like discipline, hard work, toughness, and other qualities that are still relevant but not as rigid. This was the exact identity that Austin wanted his athletes to align with.
To further establish his own identity as an expert, Coach Austin highlighted his extensive coaching background, which began in 1994, in his “profile” section. From the perspective of the consumption aspect of the circuit of culture, this sort of credibility could lead to increased consumption of his services. As he targeted a younger demographic, it was the parents who would typically be consuming his consulting services, given that they were the ones paying for it. He wanted to create a product/service that both parents and athletes deemed worthy of consuming. For the athletes, their consumption of Austin’s services was directly linked to the formation of their athletic and personal identities. The website portrayed baseball as demanding tireless precision, strength, and diligence – traits associated with the masculine athletic identity Austin promised to cultivate. Consuming his specialized training allowed players to embody this identity. Parents enabled this consumption, seeing benefits like discipline and competitiveness. Overall, Austin commodified his baseball expertise into a service parents and players would purchase to construct desired baseball identities.